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Digital transmitter is a microprocessor based device that is used to transmit signals to a

remote location. They can convert analog signals to digital signals (A/D), making
communication swift and easy and can even send both analog and digital signals at the
same time as denoted by D/A. Digital transmitter has a number of other capabilities as
well. For instance, inputs can be varied, as denoted by A/D. If a temperature transmitter
is a smart transmitter, it will accept millivolt signals from thermocouples and resistance
signals from resistance temperature devices (RTDs), and thermistors.

Components of the smart transmitter are illustrated in the above figure. The controller
takes the output signal from the transmitter and sends it back to the final control element.
The communicator is also shown. The communicator is a hand-held interface device that
allows digital "instructions" to be delivered to the smart transmitters. Testing,
configuring, and supply or acquiring data are all accomplished through the
communicator. The communicator has a display that lets the technician see the input or
output information. The communicator can be connected directly to the smart transmitter,
or in parallel any where on the loop.


CONFIGUATION: Digital transmitters can be configured to meet the demands of the

process in which they are used. For example, the same transmitter can be set up to read
almost any range or type of thermocouple, RTD, or thermistor. Because of this, they
reduce the need for a large number of specific replacement devices.

RE-RANGING: The range that the digital transmitter functions under can be easily
changed from a remote location, for example by the technician in a control room. The
technician or the operator has access to any smart device in the loop and does not even
have to be at the transmitter to perform the change. The operator does need to use a
communicator, however. A communicator allows the operator to interface with the smart
transmitter. The communicator could be a PC, a programmable logic controller (PLC), or
a hand-held device. The type of communicator depends on the manufacturer.

Re-ranging is simple with the digital transmitter. For instance, using a communicator, the
operator can change from a 100 ohm RTD to a type-J thermocouple just by
reprogramming the transmitter. The transmitter responds immediately and changes from
measuring resistance to measuring millivoltage. There is a wide range of inputs that a
digital transmitter will accept. For instance, with pressure units, the operator can
determine ahead of time whether to use inches of water, inches of mercury, psi, bars,
millibars, pascals, or kilopascals.

SIGNAL CONDITIONING : Digital transmitters can also perform signal

conditioning, scanning the average signal and eliminating any noise spikes. Signals can
also be delayed (dampened) so that the response does not fluctuate. This is especially
useful with a rapidly changing process.

SELF DIAGNOSIS : Finally, a digital transmitter can diagnose itself and report on
any problems in the process. For example, it can report on a circuit board which is not
working properly.

CHARACTERISTICS : Another characteristic of a digital transmitter is its ability to

act as a stand-alone transmitter. In such a capacity, it sends the output signal to a
distributed control system (DCS) or a PLC.

ACCURACY : Digital transmitter produces a highly accurate output. The output of the
transmitter is not affected due to variations in the external environmental conditions .


The sensors and actuators that are connected to the inputs and outputs (IO) of a
Programmable Controller or PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) are normally
mounted in the plant or factory. Therefore the IO connections of a traditional control
system often involve long runs of cable from the control room to the plant. To attempt to
reduce cabling effort, multi-core cables can be used, but these require junction boxes
and/or marshalling racks to route the signals to the correct location. Consequently each
IO channel can involve many connections as the signal passes from cable to cable. Such
wiring is expensive to install, complex to maintain and fault-finding can be difficult.


Fieldbus is an industrial network that is specifically designed for communication between

PLCs or industrial controllers and the field-mounted sensors and actuators. Fieldbus is
designed to replace the point-to-point wiring that connects each sensor and actuator to the
controller IO.When the fieldbus is integrated into the sensor or actuator the devices often
provide additional capability such as remote device configuration and/or testing over the
bus. Integrated devices can also provide diagnostic information back to the control room
to help diagnose and locate device faults. Thus devices with integrated fieldbus are often
more capable or “intelligent” than traditional actuators or sensors.

Remote IO stations can also be used with fieldbus wiring. Here the digital or analogue IO
modules are mounted in the field, close to the sensors and actuators and the data is
communicated to the remote IO module via the fieldbus cable. However, when using
remote IO the field devices cannot use the bus to communicate additional data such as
parameters or diagnostics. Here, we must use traditional (non-intelligent) actuators and


• A significant reduction in installation costs (typically 20% to 40% savings). This

saving comes from reduced wiring, connections, junction boxes, marshalling
cabinets, cable trays and supports etc.
• System expansion and modification is simpler and less expensive since only the
additional cable run from the existing network to the new device must be
• Two-way communication means that additional information such as calibration
and configuration data, diagnostic and test information, device documentation
such as device tag numbers; serial numbers service history etc. can be
communicated over the network. Equipment maintenance and servicing become
more centralised.
• Since communication is digital, accuracy is not affected by noise, interference or
electrical loading effects etc. This is a particular advantage in transmitting
analogue values.
• Open standards mean that multi-vendor systems can be constructed. Product
certification ensures that communication will work between devices from
different manufacturers.


There are many different fieldbus types available, most of which are defined by
international standards and are supported by many different manufacturers. Specific
fieldbus types are often designed for particular application areas or industries. For
example, the requirements for the process industry are often quire different from those of
part manufacturing or materials handling. What is suitable and cost effective for one
application area is often not appropriate for another. Sometimes we need a simple low-
cost fieldbus; other times we need extensive or flexible data capability. Some fieldbus
systems need to be able to operate in potentially explosive atmospheres; others require
extremely high reliability for safety-critical applications. Some fieldbus systems are
designed to carry power to the field devices over the bus cable (power over the bus). This
is often done using just two cable cores to carry power and data.

The different types of fieldbus are generally not compatible with each other. This means
that devices on a network must all use the same type of fieldbus. However, this does not
mean that different fieldbusses cannot be used together in an application. Gateways can
be used to connect one type of network or fieldbus to another. These provide conversion
from one technology to another and allow data to be passed between networks. Quite
often an application will involve several different types of network arranged in a
hierarchical manner.

There are many different requirements for communications in separate areas of the plant
and at different levels in the hierarchy. Many different considerations must be taken into
account: The required communication speed; data size and structure; environmental
factors like explosion risk, wet or dirty conditions, ambient temperature variations,
existence of electrical interference etc. Some networking solutions are suitable only for
clean and dry environments; others can be used in exposed locations. Cost, capability and
robustness often vary greatly from one fieldbus to another.


By far the most common fieldbus is PROFIBUS, with well over 20 million devices
installed around the world. PROFIBUS has solutions available for a wide range of
applications including factory automation, process plant including explosive
environments, high-speed motion control, high-integrity functional safety
systems.Another popular bus technology is Actuator-Sensor Interface (AS-i), which is
widely used in factory automation systems. AS-i is often used in conjunction with
PROFIBUS for connecting simple binary (on-off) sensors and actuators to the
PROFIBUS network using a gateway.

Ethernet and wireless networking is normally used at the office and plant level for plant
management and organisational information across the whole company. Fieldbus and
industrial Ethernet are used at the mid levels for control of plant units or cells for
supervisory control and monitoring. Different fieldbus technologies are used at the lower
sensor/actuator levels. The gateways provide an interface between the different network
technologies and allow control and monitoring signals to pass up and down from one
network to another.


DIAGNOSTICS: HART technology has the ability to provide diagnostics for the device
only, this includes any predictive options. Thus HART has no knowledge of other
devices. Field bus however communicates with other devices, opening a whole new
potential in regards to advanced diagnostics such as plant health systems.
POWER: Foundation Fieldbus has a distinct advantage when considering power
availability ,HART has a Power Limitation in that it has only around 35 milliwatts and
4Ma available for the HART signal. FF has a minimum power requirement of 8mA with
no specification limit.

MULTI-DROP CAPABILITY : HART provides a single pair of wire to each field

device and powers the device over the 4 to 20 ma signal current. HART has a very
limited digital only capability and a theoretical limit of 15 devices, however, it is
practically only about 3 because of the slow SERIES loop.FF is a true multidrop
technology with a theoretical limit 32 devices which is practically 12-16.

MULTIVARIABLES : HART does actually have this feature, however it is available in

digital mode only and not well accepted by industry. FF however has instruments already
available such as multiple temperature interfaces, pressure and temperature plus flow.
This feature has huge potential, for example how about one transmitter which gives you
level, temperature, pressure. Whilst not available to date only FF has the processing
power to make it possible.

DOWNLOADS: Foundation Field bus allows field devices to have software upgrades
downloaded over the bus. So, as new capability comes along in field devices, the new
capability can be added to the existing installed base. HART technology does not allow


Foundation Field bus is the most complex technology in use in process control today.
It has not been easy for device vendors to make the transition from HART to FF. The
extra complexity has led to an increase in field device software bugs of various types.
These bugs are manageable (fixable), but have taken time and cost money to manage.
Field bus requires skilled personnel to operate the device .